Computed tomography reconstruction of fossil vertebrates – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Computed tomography reconstruction of fossil vertebrates

Janel Lapalm


Pronouns: she/hers

Research Mentor(s): Matt Friedman, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Museum of Paleontology/Earth and Environmental Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 8
Presenter: 1

Event Link


In our research project we are studying CT examination of ancient vertebrates. Understanding morphology can illuminate the possible relationships between ancient fish vertebrates and the niches they inhabited. The fish species that will be examined for this are lungfishes, which are often described as “living fossils.” A “living fossil” is a broadly applied term but can be generally understood as an organism exhibiting a close resemblance to its older relatives found in the fossil record. This project utilizes 3D reconstructions of fossil sarcopterygian fishes to enhance our understanding of their place in the phylogenetic tree. We acquired fossils from various universities and museums across the country, and segmented out their lower jaws using the program Materialize by Mimics. By doing this our work will be turned into 3D models in the program Blender. These 3D models will then be used to “landmark” or flag important differences between the jaw structure in both the same and different species. Based on Landmark data we can better understand their place in the phylogenetic tree and the relationship between morphology, diversity, and the environmental niches of these fishes.

Authors: Janel LaPalm, Matthew Palumbo, Rafael Rivero, Matthew Friedman
Research Method: Computer Programming

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